CRF Blog

Revolution Redux

by Bill Hayes

In Revolution Redux for the New York Times Book Review, Joyce E. Chaplin reviews two books on the American Revolution: Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick and Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774–1776 by Richard R. Beeman.

Philbrick, the author of several books of American history, guides us beautifully through Revolutionary Boston, with the Battle of Bunker Hill as his story’s grand climax, while Beeman, who has written six books on the Revolution and the Constitution, draws all of the colonies (and Britain itself) into a chain of events that culminates in the drafting and acceptance of the Declaration of Independence; he nicely demonstrates that by 1776, the drafters and signers were old hands at that sort of thing. The stories intersect. If you read the books together, you see that the American Revolution had both local and proto-national dimensions. The Powder Alarm, a British attempt to seize colonial matériel in Cambridge, Mass., on Sept. 1, 1774, provides the drama for the fourth chapter of “Bunker Hill.” Over in the sixth chapter of “Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor,” news of the alarm arrives in Philadelphia, as the last express rider in a 70-hour relay halts his weary horse at Carpenters’ Hall, where delegates in the First Continental Congress had, one day earlier, begun their deliberations. [more]